May 5, 2012

Chapter 3: What NOT to Eat

Have you ever realized how many restrictions there seem to be when you're pregnant? Everyone knows that you're not supposed to smoke nor drink alcohol, which to me is a just a good rule of thumb for everyone. But there are quite a few restrictions placed on your diet when you become pregnant.

One // Soft cheese, deli meats or smoked seafood
Soft cheeses include: Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Feta, Gorgonzola, and Mexican-style cheese. And deli meats include all deli meats. Smoked seafood labels as: lox, nova style, kippered, or jerky. So what would/could happen if you chose to eat your blue cheese salad dressing on a salad or eat your sub sandwich that you are a craving so desperately? Soft cheeses, deli meats, and smoked seafood can contain a bacteria called listeria. As a bacteria, listeria, can cross the placenta and can infect the baby which can then lead to infections or blood poisoning, which can be life-threatening. Basically it can cause a miscarriage.

So how do you get around this? You can definitely have cheese as long as it is made with pasteurized milk. You can even have the soft cheeses as long as it is made with pasteurized milk. So there are actually many more products you can have and plenty of cheeses, you just have to be careful and read the labels. You can always take a chance and risk it eating them because they aren't guaranteed to carry the bacteria. As for deli meats, those aren't completely off the table either, but there is some caution that they (as in doctors) advise when eating it. Just make certain to reheat the meat until it is steaming before eating. Avoid the smoke seafood with those labels, however canned or shelf-safe smoked seafood is generally okay to eat.

This restriction is probably the hardest for me. I used to make these Greek pitas that were delicious and I loved them but they had feta cheese. And yes I could just omit the feta cheese but it wouldn't be the same without it. Plus, deli meat. I love deli meat. I crave Mr. Goodcents all the time. And yes I have had it a few times and no I have no reheated my meat at all. Take a chance but apparently in my case everything turned out fine because I know I have a healthy baby growing in there. (Check out week 11 for my scare and newest ultrasound of Poppy). I definitely don't have it often. I think I have had Goodcents twice since pregnant and I have stayed away from all soft cheese and smoked seafood.

TWO // Fish with mercury
Types of fish include: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, or fresh tuna. Basically mercury is bad, and these types of fish carry a high level of mercury. Consuming mercury while pregnant can lead to development delays and brain damage. So really bad. You also want to be careful of even canned tuna. The canned and light chuck tuna is definitely better with lower amounts but you still want to eat it in moderation and with caution.

Honestly, I have no issue with this restriction. I have no intention of eating Jaws while pregnant or ever. Maybe if I had a great love for one of these fish I would have more of an issue with this restriction but it doesn't bother me. I can still have my lobster so skipping out on eating these fishy friends is just fine with me.

THREE // Raw Meat, Raw Shellfish, Raw Eggs, and Unwashed Vegetables
Most people don't eat raw meat, but even uncooked or rare meat (and uncooked seafood) can risk the contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. I had to look up the coliform bacteria, which I learned is most common in drinking water and obviously bad for you. Toxoplasmosis can cause a serious blood infection. It is however rare. Toxoplasmosis can also be contracted by cat feces through a parasite, which is another reason why they (those docs again) tell you not to mess with cat litter while pregnant. However, if you've had a cat for a length of time then you may have always been exposed and your body has had time to developed an immunity to it. And most people know what salmonella is. Also not good.

Eating under-cooked or rare shellfish is bad for everyone, not just pregnant women. But when pregnant, you have another body that yours is taking care of so you have to be extra careful, so avoiding it altogether is the best thing to do. Eating under-cooked or rare shellfish can lead to seafood-borne illnesses. Cooking oysters, clams, mussels, etc will prevent most infections but it does not prevent the algae-related infections associated with red tides. Not eating raw eggs is probably a good rule of thumb for everyone. By eating them, you up your chances of exposure to salmonella. That's basically simple.

I know the unwashed vegetables are not like raw meats or eggs or shellfish, and you are more than welcome to eat them raw. But I grouped it together with the raw category because of that annoying toxoplasmosis.  Toxoplasmosis can contaminate the soil where the vegetables grow then if you don't wash them you have now contaminated yourself. Long story short. Wash your vegetables.

via - via - via

I wash my vegetables and I definitely like my meat cooked, so this isn't a big issue for me. I liked to abide by this when I wasn't pregnant too!

FOUR // Fish exposed to industrial pollutants
Fish include: bluefish, striped bass, salmon, pike, trout, and walleye. Basically this is another good rule of thumb for everyone to not eat fish from contaminated lakes or rivers. I don't really like fish all that much anyway, so I'll stay away from the high-level polychlorinated biphenyls lakes and rivers fish. (That's a mouth-full!)

FIVE // Caffeine
This is a big one for a lot of people. Caffeine is such a big feature in many diets these days that this restriction is really hard for a lot of women. Here's what I have discovered (in all my researching) caffeine in moderation is okay. There are studies that show that it can lead to miscarriages but mostly it's an okay addition to your diet. Many studies do say to avoid it at least during your first trimester with the likelihood of a marriage is higher anyway. If you chose to continue to have caffeine then it should definitely be limited to 1-2 cups a day. The risk with having caffeine is that it is a diuretic which can result in eliminating water and calcium from your body, so it's also important to get enough of water, juice and milk. The safest is probably not having caffeine at all during pregnancy but for so many that doesn't really seem like a reality so just moderation is the key.


Five big restrictions, that's not bad. I can handle that. Well, some better than others. Even though there seems to be a lot of things I can't have, there seems to be more that I'm actually supposed to eat. It seems weird because there are so many restrictions and so many guidelines that it doesn't seem like there is anything I'm allowed to eat. But actually, I'm supposed to eat a lot. Okay, ready for this? Here we go:

ONE //Protein Foods: 3 servings daily

TWO // Calcium foods: 4 servings daily

THREE // Vitamin C: 3 servings daily

FOUR // Green Leafy and Yellow Vegetables and Yellow Fruits: 3-4 servings daily

FIVE // Other fruits and vegetables: 1-2 servings daily

SIX // Whole Grains & Legumes: 6 or more servings daily

SEVEN // Iron-rich foods: some daily

EIGHT // Fats & High-Fat foods: about 4 servings daily

NINE // Fluids: at least 8 8-oz glasses daily

Don't worry I'm not going to go through each and every one of those because this is what to NOT eat, but I felt like I should at least touch on all the things I'm supposed to be eating. And honestly, after looking at all those servings, I feel like I should be eating all day long. There are some days I feel like I am eating all day long. Luckily a lot of these things can be double-up and often we are eating these things without even realizing it in meals. Regardless, it's overwhelming. There are so many restrictions and requirements. And like any mother-to-be I want to make sure I do things right. I don't want to mess this up.

So I guess, now this is where I wrap this up into a nice little neat ball. So be careful what you eat. Be careful to eat everything you're supposed to eat and avoid the things you're supposed to avoid. And don't forget to take your vitamin!

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